In March we saw jobless rates fall in 84% of our counties, and in April the rates fell in all 51 counties. Over one in four Michigan counties were even lower than the Michigan overall jobless rate. The talent squeeze is on in many places, including many parts of rural Michigan.
Northern Initiatives draws closer to its 1,000th loan. We have around 25 loans that have been approved by committee and are pending close, so it may already be in our queue.
We were the recipient of a $50,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development that we are using to support UP manufacturers in doing “lean” assessments. The grant will support working with 20 companies to examine their options to lower costs, improve quality, and support greater profitability.
The past few weeks were difficult ones for many of us. The first week in April we experienced the announcement of State Representative John Kivela running for Michigan Senate and then, a few weeks later, we were celebrating his life at the Memorial Service held at Northern Michigan University.
When John announced his candidacy in April, NI President Dennis West recalls that one of those in attendance was one of the people he met as a volunteer at Room at the Inn. Room at the Inn is a collaboration of a dozen Marquette churches who take turns housing homeless folks in Marquette. The person at the announcement was not a volunteer but a former guest of the program.
We find that sums up the effect of John Kivela. His announcement event, like his life, was one of drawing everyone into his circle. He was an elected official who was either aiding you in finding a path to get things done, encouraging you and wanting to know how he might assist you, or taking your cause forward and drawing in others in support.
John kept faith with people, his constituents, and many more, seeming to see everyone as a friend. It was a joy and a blessing to know him.